Young ICCA Skills Training Workshop: Training Budding Practitioners
Post Event Report
In line with its mandate of promoting the use of arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) through introducing aspiring practitioners from around the globe into the practice of arbitration, Young ICCA recently held a half-day training workshop at the International Centre for Arbitration and ADR in Lekki, Lagos.
The event hosted approximately sixty young arbitration practitioners from diverse backgrounds and levels of experience, in-house counsel, LLM graduates and law school students.
The workshop was divided into two sessions: “How to Get into International Arbitration” and “The Role of Local Counsel in International Arbitration”.
The distinguished faculty included Yemi Candide-Johnson, SAN, Partner, Strachan Partners; Lise Bosman, Executive Director, ICCA; Megha Joshi, Executive Secretary, Lagos Court of Arbitration; Ndanga Kamau, Registrar, LCIA-MIAC; Tunde Fagbohunlu, SAN, Partner, Aluko & Oyebode, Chair of the Arbitration Committee of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Farouk El-Hosseny, Legal Counsel, Permanent Court of Arbitration and Acting PCA Representative in Mauritius; Funke Adekoya, SAN, Partner ǼLEX Legal Practitioners & Arbitrators, Member ICCA Governing Board; Tolu Obamuroh, Associate General Counsel, Lagos Court of Arbitration; and Duncan Bagshaw, Barrister, Stephenson Harwood, United Kingdom.
Members of the panel at the first session recounted their experiences from starting out in the field of international arbitration, to becoming experts.
“Over the years my experience and fascination for arbitration has evolved and deepened. Career planning as an arbitrator is no longer by serendipity, in recent times it is more purpose oriented and structured, with many renowned international institutions offering degrees and internship opportunities in the field.” - Lise Bosman.
“I found myself in arbitration because while I loved resolving disputes as a lawyer in court, I found that litigation could not provide a timely resolution of disputes.”- Funke Adekoya.
Participants were encouraged to get involved actively in arbitration activities. Tunde Fagbohunlu advised young practitioners to acquire knowledge of different industries as such knowledge will ultimately be the building block of strong arbitration practice. He also advised participants to identify and take advantage of local and international internship programs, whether paid or unpaid, in order to develop their capacity.
Ms Joshi informed the audience that there is an opening for an internship programme at the Lagos Court of Arbitration for young practitioners or students desiring to gain practical experience in arbitration and other ADR mechanisms in an international setting. Furthermore, the Lagos Court of Arbitration launched its Small Claim Scheme — a specialised scheme developed to resolve small claim disputes for general compensation arising from breach of contract and/or negligence. The Scheme is intended for small claims not exceeding the sum of N5,000,000.00 (five million naira) and is applicable where both parties agree to settle their disputes in accordance with the Scheme, either before or after the dispute has arisen.
This novel initiative is aimed at enhancing the competence of young practitioners and arbitrators through:
• providing mentorship for young practitioners through supervision and advisory roles from expert arbitrators;
• fostering professional and personal bonds between practitioners from diverse cultural, academic and geographic backgrounds;
• providing access to professional development opportunities and career growth;
• introducing practitioners to the growing field of international dispute resolution and global best practices;
• providing young practitioners with the chance to practice arbitration and mediation techniques in real situations at an early stage under the scrutiny of senior arbitrators and ADR experts.
Ms Joshi stated that qualification for membership on the Small Claim Scheme panel of neutrals was through certification and experience. She therefore urged young practitioners to seize the opportunity to kick-start their career in ADR.
While speaking at the second session on the role of local counsel in international arbitration, Mr Candide-Johnson stated that “in arbitration, the experience and expertise of local counsel are beneficial in any setting, especially in international disputes —where complex procedural and judicial issues may arise”. This viewpoint was shared by Mrs Kay Weinberg, an associate at WilmerHale. She stated that identifying arbitration strategies and monitoring arbitration timelines by local counsel are key factors in ensuring the effective practise of international arbitration. Ms Ndanga Kamau advocated that skill acquisition and experience in domestic arbitration help open the doors of international arbitration for local counsel. Mr Tolu Obamuroh pointed out that in view of present day international commerce and cross-border transactions, Nigeria may need to follow the Lagos example by amending the Arbitration and Conciliation Act explicitly stating that foreign lawyers are allowed to participate in arbitration proceedings in Nigeria, and that the Legal Practitioners Act does not apply to international arbitration.
Through the generous support from Investment Climate Facility for Africa, Babalakin & Co, ǼLEX and the Lagos Court of Arbitration, participants were ushered to a cocktail reception.
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